Tuesday 03 September 2019, 07:03

Africa’s race to Qatar 2022 set to begin

  • First round of Africa’s qualifying competition for Qatar 2022

  • 14 two-legged ties on the programme

  • Of the 28 nations involved, only Angola, Togo have ever appeared at a FIFA World Cup™

After Asia, where the action got under way a few weeks ago, it is the turn of Africa to embark on its qualifying competition for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™. The long road to the next world finals begins with a first round contested by the continent’s 28 lowest teams in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for July 2019.

FIFA.com sets the scene as Africa begins its race to Qatar.

The fixtures

The format

  • Knockout ties played over two legs, held between 2 and 10 September 2019.

  • The 14 winners will join the continent’s top 26 teams in the second round.

  • The 40 teams will be drawn into ten groups of four.

  • The ten group winners will qualify for the final knockout round, played over two legs.

  • The five winners of those ties will represent the CAF Zone at Qatar 2022.

What you need to know

Big names absent for former world finalists Togo: Togo and Angola are the only teams taking part in the first round who have World Cup finals experience. The Sparrowhawks qualified for Germany 2006 thanks to a golden generation led by Emmanuel Adebayor. The forward is still playing 13 years on but has been overlooked for selection by Claude Le Roy, as has midfielder Alaixys Romao, another veteran of Togo’s German adventure. The experienced Floyd Ayite, Matthieu Dossevi and James Olufade will all be lining up against Comoros, however.

Djibouti hoping for payback: In the qualifiers for Russia 2018, Eswatini beat Djibouti 8-1 on aggregate. The two sides meet again four years on, with a new-look Djibouti side mindful of that heavy defeat over two legs and now under the tutelage of 37-year-old French coach Julien Mette. “The squad is really up for this because Eswatini’s biggest ever win came against Djibouti in that qualifying tie,” Mette told FIFA.com. “That should motivate the players to set the record straight and help us forget about that statistic.”

Gael Bigirimana of Burundi heading the ball

Burundi and Tanzania test recent progress: Both sides sprang a surprise in qualifying for the recent CAF Africa Cup of Nations, a historic first for Burundi and a long-awaited return to the competition for Tanzania after a 39-year absence. Whoever wins the two-legged tie between them will make history, as neither nation has ever progressed beyond the first round of World Cup qualifying.

Neighbours face off: the 14 ties feature two derbies between neighbouring countries. Liberia and Sierra Leone, who share a border on Africa’s west coast, will fight it out for a place in the next round, with the Liberians having the edge in the head-to-head: three wins, a draw and a defeat in five meetings. Central African nations Chad and Sudan will contest the other derby. The Sudanese have the better record in the four meetings between the two, winning two, drawing one and losing the other.

Player to watch: Zimbabwe’s Tinotenda “Tino” Kadawere is Africa’s latest football sensation, though he is not particularly well known outside France. Currently playing up front for Le Havre in the French second flight, he has already scored eight league goals in five matches, from eight shots on target. Kadawere will hope to be every bit as effective when the Warriors take on Somalia. An international since 2015, the 23-year-old striker has two goals to his name in 14 appearances.

Saimon Happygod Msuva of Tanzania

Live streaming

Most of the first-round matches will be streamed live on FIFA.com and on FIFA TV’s official YouTube channel. In broadcasting these matches, FIFA is highlighting its commitment to developing football in Africa, while giving as many fans as possible the chance to follow the continent’s qualifying competition for Qatar 2022.